Kayaking the Vava’u Islands – Tonga

Paddling through Paradise

The Pacific’s best kayaking destination is Tonga’s enchanting Vava’u group, some fifty reef-encircled, bush-clad islands separated by narrow water­ways and protected within an emerald lagoon measuring about 13 by 15 miles.

Vava’u’s unsullied beauty is a prime destination for water sports and yachting, but the best way to visit the hidden marine caves, secluded coves, and turquoise waters lapping sugar-white sand beaches is by guided kayak trip. Guides will introduce you to both the local Polynesian environment and culture, visiting small outer-island villages and the traditional umu feast, where suckling pig is steamed in a covered underground pit to the accompaniment of Tongan song and dance.

Vava’u’s protected channels and coral reefs afford glorious opportunities for snorkeling and spotting dolphins and whales, which head from Antarctica to these shallow, warm waters June through November to bear their young. You won’t be the first to abandon your kayak to slip into the water and swim with them.

Uninhabited islands are the ideal spot for beachside barbecues or pitching camp under waving palms and the Southern Cross.

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